Fitness, OT, ‘me too’ bargaining issues for city, FOP

By Gary Abernathy - [email protected]

The fact finding conclusions that were accepted in July by Hillsboro City Council but rejected by Hillsboro members of the Fraternal Order of Police included negotiations over physical fitness standards, pay increases, overtime and the “me too” clause, according to a fact finder’s report.

Todd Wilkin, the city safety and service director, told city council last Monday that the FOP had rejected the fact finding report, and negotiations were moving to conciliation, which is the final arbitration step.

According to the fact finder’s report issued last month, the city and the FOP’s differences ultimately boiled down to eight issues at the end of negotiations.

One issue that was ultimately withdrawn was in regard to physical fitness standards sought by the city, with the fact finder, C. Forest Guest, noting that the union was concerned “that this was a method of trying to terminate officers as they got older.”

“After a lot of conversation and agreement that officers did in fact need to stay in good physical condition, the parties withdrew this proposal,” the report states.

However, under the heading of “Training and Working Conditions,” the parties agreed that “employees shall take one physical examination once per year covering evaluation of weight, eyesight, hearing and cardiovascular system, to evaluate ability to fulfill duties pursuant to guidelines agreed upon and set forth in writing by the Labor/Management Committee.”

If the officer is found unable to perform the duties of the position, “the employee shall be eligible to apply for disability retirement, retirement or other benefits as set forth by law. The city may, in its discretion, seek a separation under OAC Section 123:1-30.”

Another negotiating point was over wages. According to Guest, both sides agreed to a 2 percent increase for 2016 and “for each year thereafter during the term of this agreement.”

But the union fought to retain a “me too” clause, which assures a union that its contract will be upgraded if another union negotiates a better deal.

While Guest expressed sympathy with the union because such a clause has been standard for many years, the final recommendation stated, “In this situation this is the only union and the ‘me too’ clause extends to the non-union employees that are working under very different conditions, namely they do not have a collective bargaining agreement or the collective rights a union provides.” The fact finder recommended that the “me too” language be deleted.

Regarding overtime opportunities, the sides agreed to modify language to state, “The administration shall use reasonable efforts to rotate overtime opportunities among qualified bargaining unit employees. Employees who show up for an overtime assignment shall receive one and one-half times their regular rate of pay for actual hours worked but no less than two hours for each show up. The city may use reserves or special officers to accomplish the extra work in a cost effective manner, so long as it does not displace a current full time employee.”

The city was represented by labor consultant Bob Cross of Portsmouth, while Mark Scranton, staff representative of the Ohio FOP, represented the union. Also attending a June fact finding hearing for the city were Wilkin, city auditor Gary Lewis and police chief Todd Whited. On hand for the union in addition to Scranton were Tonya Sapp, Elizabeth Bryan, Aaron Reynolds and Tim Bell.

At the conclusion of his report, Guest wrote that he was impressed with both sides during negotiations.

“With each group it was apparent that reaching a resolution was important and that some understands might be accomplished” he wrote. He added, “It was a productive environment that all contributed to.”

City council unanimously approved accepting the fact finder’s recommendation at its July meeting, and Wilkin expressed optimism that the FOP would do the same. But last Monday, he reported that the union had voted it down and the matter was moving to conciliation, scheduled for Aug. 30.

Wilkin said Friday he was surprised that the FOP rejected the fact finder report, because the only unresolved issue he was aware of was language in Article 13 dealing with training and working conditions that was agreed to be fixed.

Scranton, of the FOP, could not be immediately reached Friday.

Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.

By Gary Abernathy

[email protected]